Self improvement: Becoming productive

Last updated 09:51 06/11/2012

Today is the first day since arriving in Africa when I've missed working in an office. I think it's because I've tried to replicate an office in our lounge. This has been achieved by moving every chair except one away from the dinner table to make it feel like a desk, and by adding to the "desk" a steady accumulation of coffee-stained, empty mugs.

The curse of procrastination 

Desk

I'm supposed to be researching a location that'll feature in an upcoming travel story I've been commissioned to do. But instead I've done everything else: the sweeping, the (hand) washing, the dishes, and just to make myself feel as though I've achieved something, I've finished a few boring invoices. 

But being your own boss is supposed to be the dream, right? On how many slow news afternoons did I distract myself with imaginings of taking a week - nay, a fortnight! - to research any story I like? Or getting a full uninterrupted hour lunch break? Or turning up to work in my super-comfortable, stretch cotton, hideously faded hippie pants?

And make no mistake - getting out of the rat race has its perks. From my experience it gives you the opportunity to reassess what's important to you, and re-juggle your time accordingly. Do you want to spend more time with your husband or wife? Do you want the time to savour your breakfast, and enjoy the first coffee of the day instead of rushing out the door or eating at your desk? Being self-employed enables you to dictate those things - obviously balanced with the need to keep food on the table and a roof over your head!

Cutting ties with a constant pay cheque 

Personally, quitting the neverending treadmill of paid employment has meant great things. On the trivial side, I can google any question I want answered as soon as I think of it, before getting distracted by real work. What's the best way to grow kale? Is there a natural remedy for fleas in the house? When is the world supposed to end? 

On the career side, I've had opportunities that wouldn't have happened had I stayed in New Zealand. I've worked in radio and print, I'm learning the tricks of the television production trade, and I've travelled to some far-flung and reasonably dangerous places to do so.

Time to face facts

But this new phase has forced me to realise I am also TERRIBLE at motivating myself. Something that should take me two hours takes me five. Instead of a lunch break I'll watch an episode of Dexter. Instead of pitching a story I'll write an email to someone back home. And don't even get me started on Facebook when there's no one over your shoulder making sure you're using time wisely...

Just do it

If you've been thinking about quitting your job to become your own big cheese, and it's something you really want, I'd say do it! But do it armed with a few motivational techniques. I've found splitting my day into chunks and setting tasks for each hour or two works well. If it's an office (home) bound day, getting out for a walk in the middle is a good way to rejuvenate for the afternoon. And perhaps limit the amount of Dexter episodes you have on hand.

Have you ever thought about becoming your own boss? What things would you do more of if you had the time? Anyone with motivation tips?

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